The meaning of blue

How does the colour blue make you feel? People have long believed that certain colours can evoke different moods and feelings, and some research has supported the idea that colours can indeed have psychological effects. Our language sometimes reflects that … “Feeling Blue” is often attributed to feeling sad or having a ‘low mood’. even songs are written about it!  But is that so for everyone?

Blue is a colour so often found in nature such as the pale blue of a daytime sky or the rich dark blue of a deep pool of water. It is for this reason perhaps that people often describe the colour blue as calm and serene. It seems to surround us. Yet the different tones of BLUE can create different responses in us. As a cool colour, blue can sometimes seem icy, distant, or even cold. Yet in its warmer hues, it seems to create a calm clarity and a sense of ease. 

Where do the blue colours we see come from?

BLUE lies towards the cooler end of the electromagnetic spectrum between GREEN and INDIGO.  To many INDIGO, the colour of the night sky, Is a shade of BLUE .. and INKY BLACK depending on the light being reflected by the moon towards earth at the time. 

BLUE is one of the three PRIMARY COLOURS of pigments. Pigments are sources of colour discovered by man initially in natural sources such as rocks or plant material. The colours are created by particular METALS such as COPPER, MANGANESE, ALUMINIUM, IRON. But as is often the case in the world of chemistry its not quite that simple. In what may seem a magical process, complex molecules containing these metals formed naturally as our planet underwent immense physical and chemical changes during its formation. Its these processes that provided early man with natural dyes. 

Blue is a PRIMARY COLOUR in terms of pigments. There are THREE PRIMARY COLOURS : Blue, Red and Yellow.  ALL other colours that our eyes can see and our brains can perceive as DIFFERENT can be created by these primary colours. 

But we need to remember that COLOURS are simply created by different wavelengths of LIGHT.  And the colours we see around us are the result of combining different wavelengths of LIGHT not playing with pigments.  What happens when we play with light wavelength and mix them? This is exactly what happens in the digital MEDIA world. 

As you know sunlight .. let’s call it WHITE LIGHT is made up from wavelengths in the VISIBLE part of the ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM.  Here again we can pick out THREE PRIMARY COLOURS. But in terms of LIGHT our PRIMARY COLOURS are RED, GREEN AND BLUE.  Mixing these colours ( called ADDITIVE MIXING) creates white light. But let’s look what happens when we play with BLUE light. 

Mixing equal amounts of BLUE AND RED wavelengths of light produces the vivid pink hue we call MAGENTA.  Mixing BLUE AND GREEN on the other hand creates CYAN. You may well be familiar with these colours from ordering INK for your PRINTER.  

How does BLUE make us feel?

The most important aspect of colour in our daily life is probably the one that is least defined and most variable!  It involves our unique aesthetic and psychological responses to colour and influences art, fashion, commerce, and even physical and emotional sensations. For example there is a generalised perception of the link between colour and emotion that red, orange, yellow, and brown hues are “warm,” while the blues, greens, and greys are “cold. But is you begin to play with different tones of colour you will may be find that is not always true. 

We need to remember that our psychological perception of the any meaningfulness of colour is largely subjective, created around our own personal experiences but that IS set against a known physical response to colour which many people experience, Cultural differences influence this but my own observations over many years of working with others has shown links between colour, feelings and emotions.

Lets look at what happens when we explore the range of BLUE HUES 

Like many colours, our response to the colour blue is complex and sometimes even contradictory. For example BLUE not only represents the healing nature of water but also the power of stormy seas. It’s darkest hues create a sense of mystery and intrigue whereas its lightest hues can create a deep sense of calm. Add a touch of yellow to blue and you create turquoise. It is like adding a little energy to that calming blue to create a refreshing contentment.

And there’s a good reason we think of BLUE as relaxing; It creates a PHYSICAL response within our body. It actually tends to lower our heart rates, blood pressure, and our breathing rate and even lowers our body temperature. Blue can also have an effect on the pituitary gland in our brain, affecting our sleep patterns. Studies of brain activity have demonstrated that memory is enhanced by blue light. Although this may have no advantage to humans blue light can even kill some bacteria!

In many fields BLUE is seen to represent introspective journeys and symbolises a deeper wisdom and depth of understanding. It stands for serenity and is the colour of all that seems constant and unchanging.  This calmative effect can be seen more clearly when a your environment contains a number of different hues which includes BLUE .  Look at those other colours and then let your eyes and mind rest on the BLUE hues .. how does that feel?   

Plants, rocks and crystals

Colouring your flowers blue

Cornflowers with their intensely blue colouration

TRUE blue flowers are natural rarities, and their colour secrets aren’t readily shared. Many kinds of flowering plants do not include any blue-flowering varieties, though people go to great lengths to create them. 

I have an instinctive dislike of any flowers that have been artificially made to look blue by placing them in a flask of blue dye in water. 

This seems to somehow devalue the beauty of amazing scientific trickery a few plants go to to create that mesmerising blue that catches our eyes

How can we ever forget the intense blue of ForgetMeNots

We instinctively KNOW that true blue. The colour doesn’t come easily because true blue pigment doesn’t exist in plants. Instead, other pigments and plant minerals combine with wavelengths of light to create the colours people see. Among all the purples, violets and reds, some amazing naturally blue flowers result : Bluebells, Delphiniums, Cornflowers, Hydrangeas, Plumbago, Himalayan Poppies, Muscari Hyacinth, Morning Glory ….  

The sources of our blue pigments ~ the colours of rocks

We are all aware of the magical crystals that are found in igneous (volcanic) rocks in different parts of the world. Writing what I know about those would fill many pages so I will write about this in my blog. The intense or more gently coloured sapphires, turquoise, tourmaline, aquamarine, spinel. Indeed there are around 57 of them. But one of the rocks that has always grabbed my imagination is LAPI LAZULI.